Consumer VOICE

Know Your Quality Marks

Manufacturers often sell their products with a quality mark of a product certification body. Quality marks are meant to communicate the added value of the product. The extra quality may refer to one or more aspects that a consumer may be unsure about. Such aspects can be environmental impact, product quality, safety and hygiene, production standards, the absence of additives or preservatives, etc. Overall, a quality mark gives the consumer a visual and easily identifiable quality assessment tool, originating from a reliable source. Here, Ashok Kanchan, Food Desk, Consumer Voice, acquaints us with the quality marks used in India.

Agmark

The Agmark certification is done of agricultural commodities for the benefit of consumers and producers/manufacturers. Certification of adulteration-prone commodities such as rice, pulses, butter, ghee, vegetable oils, ground spices, honey and wheat atta is covered under Agmark scheme. Blended vegetable oils and fat spread are compulsorily required to be certified under Agmark. The scheme is legally enforced by Agricultural Produce (Grading & Marking) Act, 1937.

Manufacturers seeking to grade their commodities under Agmark have to obtain a Certificate of Authorization from an Agmark laboratory. For this purpose, they should have adequate infrastructure to process the commodity and access to an approved laboratory for determination of quality and safety factors. The quality of a product is determined with reference to factors such as size, variety, weight, colour, moisture and fat content. The grades incorporated are grades 1, 2, 3 and 4, or special, good, fair and ordinary.

Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Marks

As per Food Safety & Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011:

(i) Every package of ‘non-vegetarian’ food shall bear a declaration to this effect made by a symbol and colour code as stipulated, to indicate that the symbol and colour product is non-vegetarian food. The symbol shall consist of a brown colour-filled circle inside a square with brown outline, having sides double the diameter of
the circle.

(ii) Where any article of food contains egg only as non-vegetarian ingredient, the manufacturer or packer or seller may give declaration to this effect in addition to the said symbol.

(iii) Every package of vegetarian food shall bear a declaration to this effect by a symbol and colour code as stipulated for this purpose to indicate that symbol and colour code the product is vegetarian food. The symbol shall consist of a green colour-filled circle, having a diameter not less than the minimum size specified, inside the square with green outline having size double the diameter of the circle.

The symbol shall be prominently displayed

  • on the package having contrast background on principal display panel
  • just close in proximity to the name or brand name of the product
  • on the labels, containers, pamphlets, leaflets, advertisements in any media

Provided also that the provisions of above regulation shall not apply in respect of mineral water or packaged drinking water or carbonated water or alcoholic drinks, or liquid milk and
milk powders.

Handloom Mark

The Government of India introduced the Handloom Mark scheme to promote handloom products in the domestic and international markets and to provide assurance to consumers about the genuineness of handloom products. The scheme covers all handloom fabrics and products made thereof. The mark is in two forms: the one for domestic use has the word ‘handloom’ written beneath the logo, and the one for international marketing has the same logo with the words ‘hand woven in India’ written beneath it.

One label will be affixed on each made-up item and each garment produced from hand-woven fabric. In case of hand-woven fabric, one label will be affixed on the inner end of the fabric fold (than). When the fabric is sold in retail to the consumer, the retailer will fix a label on the cut piece of the fabric.

A consumer having any doubt about the authenticity of a product labelled with Handloom Mark can approach the Textiles Committee of Government of India with a copy of the bill and the code number of the mark. Based on the findings, Textiles Committee will initiate action according to the agreement entered into with the mark users and as per the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The consumer may also exercise the option of approaching a consumer court.

Woolmark

The Woolmark logo is used to identify products that contain wool. There are three marks for different types and blends of wool.

Products with the Woolmark logo are 100 per cent pure new wool and have been approved and certified to meet quality specifications and offer natural comfort. The Woolmark Blend logo identifies products containing a minimum of 50 per cent new wool, offering comfort and performance. The Wool Blend symbol represents products with 30 per cent to 49 per cent new wool. This logo identifies wool containing wool and other yarns such as polyester and nylon.

Woolmark

ISO Mark

Established in year 1947, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental federation of natural standards bodies from around 160 or so different countries. India is also a member country in ISO.

As on 31 December 2011, there are 19,023 International Standards and standards-type documents published, such as ISO 9000 for quality management system. ISO standards are voluntary.

ISI Mark

A certification marks scheme is operated by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), earlier known as Indian Standards Institute (ISI), under the provisions of BIS Act, 1986. Any product that has the ISI mark is supposed to be of minimum standard and safe for use by consumers.

The ISI mark is both mandatory and voluntary. Some products like cement, electrical appliances, LPG cylinder and packaged water have to necessarily be sold with the ISI mark.

Silk Mark

The Silk Mark is a quality assurance label for pure silk and in addition serves as a brand for generic promotion of pure silk. The Silk Mark is under the process of registration as a trademark.

The Silk Mark can be used in all silk products ranging from yarn stage to finished stage, like Dress Material, Made ups, Garments, Carpets and Sarees. The Silk Mark scheme is backed by Silk Mark Organisation of India (SMOI), a registered society sponsored by Central Silk Board, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Hallmark

The hallmarking scheme was launched by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on behest of the Government of India, for gold in the year 2000 and for silver Jewellery in 2005. The scheme is voluntary in nature.

Consumers need to look out for the following markings on gold/silver jewellery:

1. BIS mark

2. Purity/fineness mark. With reference to gold, the marks are:
958 corresponds to 23 carat
916 corresponds to 22 carat
875 corresponds to 21 carat
750 corresponds to 18 carat
585 corresponds to 14 carat
375 corresponds to 9 carat

3. Assaying and Hallmarking Centre mark: The logo of a BIS-recognized Assaying and Hallmarking Centre where the jewellery has been assayed and hallmarked

4. Jeweller’s mark: The logo of a BIS-certified jeweller/jewellery manufacturer

5. Year of marking: The code letter represents the year of hallmarking of jewellery and is decided by BIS – for example, the letter A denotes
the year 2000

BEE Stars

So as to provide consumers with a reference for energy saving, and thereby cost saving, aspects of electrical, household and other equipments, in 2006 the Bureau of Electrical Efficiency (BEE) of Ministry of Power, Government of India, launched a scheme for BEE star on labels. The scheme is currently invoked for frost-free (no frost) refrigerators, tubular fluorescent lamps, room air conditioners, direct cool refrigerators, distribution transformers, induction motors, pump sets, ceiling fans, LPG stoves, electric geysers and colour TVs.

Since 7 January 2010, the BEE star label has been mandatory for these electrical products: frost-free (no frost) refrigerators, room air conditioners, tubular fluorescent lamps and distribution transformers. To sell these products, a minimum 1 Star rating is mandatory.

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